San Diego Playwrights

Getting San Diego Playwrights Produced on San Diego Stages

Cygnet Theatre’s Playwrights in Process: An Interview with Todd Goodlett

on October 24, 2013
Todd Goodlett

Todd Goodlett

Tell us about yourself.

I am a screenwriter and a playwright.  I live in Santa Barbara with my wife and daughter.  My plays have been developed and produced at the Moving Arts Theater in Los Angeles, the Diversionary Theatre in San Diego, and The Landing Theatre in Houston.  My play, The Zapruder Film, was presented at the 2010 New American Playwrights Project at the Tony award-winning Utah Shakespeare Festival.  I have been a finalist for the Austin Film Festival, Amazon Studios, and the Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting sponsored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.  I am a graduate of Texas Tech University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts and the UCLA School of Theatre, Film, & Television’s Professional Program in Screenwriting.

Tell us about Off the Map.

With disasters and tragedies headlining the news, Eunice and Arlen, two heavily-armed senior citizens, retreat to the desert, preparing for the end of the world.  Their grandson, Tommy, who is having an almost mid-life crisis and his political activist girlfriend, Mia, soon arrive on the scene.  Tommy tries to convince them that civilization is not on the verge of collapse but, when they witness a plane crash, Eunice’s doomsday prophecies appear to be coming true.


What are your challenges and successes with Off the Map?

The challenge with Off the Map is all the characters are a bit delusional and somewhat paranoid.  Although the protagonist, Tommy, appears to be the voice of reason, I wanted him to be infected by the paranoia within the play’s environment and make a decision at the end of the story that puts him at a completely different place than where he started out.  I knew where I wanted the story to end but I didn’t know exactly how to get there.  That is something we worked on within the development process of the play.  My director, Derek Livingston, and my dramaturg, Jessica Ordon, were instrumental in helping with Tommy’s journey.

One of the other challenges with the play was trying to create a dialogue that was realistic, but also set the tone for this absurd and crazy world.  I created rhythm within the piece, using the repetition of sounds and words.  There’s also a character who shows up midway through the story who uses a lot of aphorisms and clichés, because he’s with the government and he’s always dispensing propaganda.  Overall, I feel like the language of the play bears some resemblance to reality, but ultimately it’s a very heightened reality.

As far as successes, I guess we’ll find out at the reading. Hopefully, people laugh.

What is your next step for Off the Map?

The play was first presented at the Landing Theatre in Houston this summer and it got a really great response.  I feel like we’ve taken the play to a new level through the process at Cygnet Theatre.  Hopefully, I can find a theatre that will take a chance on producing it.

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